2011 Patriots Defensive Analysis

@ Miami Dolphins

The new 4-3 defense was unveiled and despite giving up over 400 yards of offense it is clear that they read and react 3-4 days are gone. With a healthy rotation at just about every defensive position the Pats were able to draw a number of holding penalties, along with constant disruption along the line.

Notes: Ras-I Dowling started on the outside and was impressive. Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown split time at safety alongside Chung.

Studs: Pryor, Haynesworth, Carter, Anderson

Duds: Guyton

3rd Down: 2 of 14: 14% (wow)

Sub — 59 of 76 
Base — 15 of 76 
Short yardage — 2 of 76

Snap Totals

San Diego Chargers

The Pats defense was hot and cold but got the job done against the Chargers by forcing four turnovers. The game plan to take Antonio Gates out of the equation was successful, but Vincent Jackson and the two running backs caught a combined 25 of Rivers’ 29 completions.

3-3-5 (used 22 times), 4-2-5 (20 times), 4-3-4 (15 times), 3-2-6 (14 times), 2-3-6 (4 times), 5-4-2 (once), 6-3-2 (once).

3rd Down: 10/12 (83%)

Studs: Mayo, Wilfork, Chung

Duds: Carter, Haynesworth, McCourty

— 49 of 71 
Base — 22 of 71 
Short-yardage — 1 of 71

Snap Count


The Pats primarily used a 3-3-5 Nickel package and it was torched both through the air and on the ground. The lack of jams from the corners was perhaps the biggest problem, but the pass rush was still just a second too late. It wasn’t all horrible as the Pats had 4 three and outs and two interceptions, but ultimately they couldn’t come up with a stop when they had to, easily allowing the Bills right now the field in three plays to kick the game winning field goal.

— 58 of 66 
Base — 2 of 66 
Short-yardage — 6 of 66

Snap Totals

Third Down: 4/11 = 36%

@ Oakland Raiders

The Patriots kept Darren McFadden and allowed Jason Campbell to implode. It was still a rough day on third down, but the Pats did what they’ve done best over the last two seasons, gave up yards but got the crucial interceptions and stops they needed. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the win. Ellis-Wilfork-Love-Carter was the primary front.

Studs- Spikes, Wilfork, Carter

Duds - Sergio, Ellis

Third Down: 8/13 = 61% (really bad)

Red Zone D: 2/5 = 40%

— 38 of70* 
Sub — 30 of 70 
Short-yardage — 2 of 70 
* includes one play with 10 men on the field

Snap Totals

New York Jets

The Patriots played played one of their best defensive games of the past two years using most a 4-3 and 3-3-5 nickel package. They forced 7 three-and-outs and generally had good tackling and run defense. Albert Haynesworth was effective in spot duty, while Guyton and Spikes played huge roles filling in for Mayo.

Studs: Carter, Chung, Ninkovich

Duds: Hard to really hate on anyone, Ihedigbo struggled a bit in coverage, but overall the defense was all on the same page.

— 33 of 54 
Sub — 21 of 54 
Short-yardage — 0 of 54

Third Down: 3/11 = 27%

Red Zone: 2/2 = 100%

Snap Count

Dallas Cowboys

The Pats stuck to two primary defensive packages the 4-3 and a 3-3-5 nickel. They got great play from their front seven that shut down the run and go consistent pressure throughout the game. Arguably this was the best defensive performance in two years. It looks like things are progressing.

Studs: Spikes, Carter, Wilfork

Duds: Guyton, McCourty

3rd Down: 4/12 = 33%

Red Zone: 1/3 = 33%

Snap Count

Base — 40 of 74*
Sub — 33 of 74 
Short-yardage — 1 of 74 
* Includes one play with 12 men on the field

@Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots bend but don’t break was in full effect  in this one with the Pats powerless to stop the Steelers until the red zone. That was the only thing that prevented a blowout. They continued to use the 4-3 and 4-2-5 nickel package primarily and while the run defense was tolerable, the short pass defense was atrocious.

Studs: um….?

Dude: Pick a number, but Guyton and Ninkovich take the cake, with Moldin and Ihedigbo not far behind.

3rd Down: 10/16 = 62%

Red Zone: 2/5 = 40%

Snap Count

Sub — 62 of 80 
Base — 14 of 80 
Short-yardage — 4 of 80

New York Giants

The Pats played more of a traditional 4-3 Normal with both OLBs off the line of scrimmage and it was one of their best performances of the year until the last two drives yielded TDs, including the game winner. With Brace and Deaderick back there was a healthy rotation of interior linemen.

Studs: Spikes, Ninkovich, Deaderick, Wilfork

Duds: Sergio Brown

Third Down: 4/14 = 28%

Red Zone: 3/5 = 60%

Snap Count

Sub — 35 of 72 
Base — 34 of 72 
Short-yardage — 3 of 72

New York Jets

With a make shift secondary the Pats were able to dominate with their front seven despite also starting Tracy White and Jeff Tarpinian. It was a signature performance by Belichick, led by Andre Carter and Mark Anderson who showed Patriots fans what a real pass rush looked like for the first time in years. The injuries are building up for the Pats, getting healthy and maintaining their lead in the division will be the main focuses as they enter the stretch run.

Studs: Ninkovich, Carter, Anderson

Duds: Hard to kill anyone, though Guyton dressed and didn’t play

Third Down: 5/13 = 38%

Red Zone: 2/4 = 50%

Snap Count

Sub — 50 of 72 
Base — 22 of 72 
Short-yardage — 0 of 72

Kansas City Chiefs

Brandon Deaderick got more time at LDE with Shaun Ellis taking a seat for him. The Pats did what they had to do with a depleted secondary, but they played solid fundamental football. Kyle Arrington continues to have a great season picking up two more interceptions. Edelman made his premiere at cornerback and did well.

Studs: Arrington, Mark Anderson

Duds: None

Third Down: 6/14 = 42%

Red Zone: 0/2 = 0%

Base — 41 of 70 
Sub — 29 of 70 
Short-yardage — 0 of 70

Snap Count

Philadelphia Eagles

The Pats came out in a lighter 4-3 with Ninkovich at LDE. Love and Wilfork did an excellent job keeping the run shut down. The Eagles made some good deep throws but once the Pats settled down they played extremely well, at one point getting off the field on 90% of their third downs.

Third Down: 4/13 = 30%

Red Zone: 2/4= 50%

Snap Count

— 61 of 73 
Base — 11 of 73 
Short-yardage — 1 of 73

Indianapolis Colts

As usual the Pats broke out some new wrinkles on defense vs. the Colts. Although this year it could be called the junior varsity wrinkle. Whether BB was nursing injuries, experimenting, or just playing the guys that practiced best is hard to say. But they got a good performance out of the rag tag bunch until the game was well in hand, then they went to sleep, allowing the Colts to score 21 4th quarter points.

Studs: Vince Wilfork

Duds: Devin McCourty

Third Down: 10/15 = 66%

Red Zone: 2/3 = 66%


Sub —
69 of 73 
Short-yardage — 3 of 73 
Base — 1 of 73

Washington Redskins

Perhaps the worst defensive performance of the year, with the Patriots D only making 3 plays that ended up being the difference. An early safety sack for Andre Carter, a goal line stand, and Jerod Mayo’s overtime saving interception. Otherwise the Pats were gashed on the ground and through the air, in the most balanced beatdown we’ve seen in some time. Dane Fletcher finally returned and locked down the MLB spot. McCourty struggled mightily in the first half before settling down in the second.

Studs:Wilfork, Mayo

Duds: McCourty

3rd Down:7/14 = 50%

Red Zone: 2/5 = 40%

Snap Count

Denver Broncos

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